Originally, this article appeared in the Brain to Books Cyber Convention.
I'm fond of the message in the article, since it gives the reader
- an understanding of where I am coming from.
- Please enjoy.
The horror genre is massive. The streets of horror are connected to side roads. Those side roads are connected to dirt roads. Fair warning no good can come from a dirt road on the horror path. There seems no way of mapping the horror genre it is something that must be explored. Many steer clear of the horror roads, being afraid of where they lead to. I have been down many of those roads trying my best to discover what branch of horror I liked. The horror inclination was always tugging at me giving me the need to wander in it finding where I fit in.
This is article isn’t for or against any facet of horror. In writing my Women of the Grey series I am constantly surprised at what my readers find creepy, unsettling while others find the same section mysterious and poetic. The fact that this happens is a tell of human nature. While some people smell the flowers, others stomp them, and some plant them.
In my wanderings down the horror path I discovered my horror love is classic horror mixed with some camp. I’ll be the first to line up for a Hammer film festival or to see Elvira at local venue. I am not a blood and guts fan. My heart belongs to monsters, Kaiju, and those creepy things that go bump in the night. Most of all my heart pumps for those terrifying things that visit us from outer space.
My fandom for monsters and classic horror started off when I was very young. I might have been the only 8 year old on the block watching Godzilla movies, not sure. Thinking back at such a young age my love for these monsters came from admiration. Who wouldn’t want to be Godzilla? If you’re having an awful day wouldn’t it be great to just knock down a building? As a kid I didn’t think about the logistics of knocking down the building, I just knew I wanted to be Godzilla.
As I grew older my tastes for monsters progressed. I watched Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds and had my mind blown by the fact that there was other type of monsters out there. Everyday things could be a monster, just like the birds in the movie. By the way I’m still a bit wary of large groups of birds, being almost certain that they are called a murder of crows for a reason.
In my teen years I discovered Tolkien. Orcs were a new type of monster. After my Lord of the Rings obsession (read the series 5 times) came the Alien movie franchise. As I grew older my palate for monsters was developing. My palate became enhanced more than what was typical. I can clearly remember the first time I watched Pan’s Labyrinth; the eye holding, saggy skin, kid eating monster that our heroine narrowly escapes shook me down and woke me up. That, I could point a finger at, was my type of horror.
There were other things before Pans Labyrinth that put the stepping-stones down for my education into horror. I watched things like Faces of Death and I read Stephen King. I took long walks with Anne Rice books bringing along her vampires and witches. I did these things to further explore the horror path. I wanted to know how many places it could lead me to. The Faces of Death movies weren’t for me. Stephen King books were a pleasure to read and his movies enjoyable. Anne Rice vampires were seductive, her witches intriguing.
There was so much out there to understand about my relationship with horror, why I liked it and what I liked. Horror is not one solid thing. What is one person’s horror is another person’s main stream; some might believe to have horror you must have torture or captivity. While others might believe to have horror there must be a guy with a mask and machete romping around some lake.
When it is discovered that I am a writer the first thing people ask is what genre I write. When I say I am a horror author some immediately put their hands up explaining to me that they can’t handle it, don’t like it. “Oh girl, I can’t sleep at night after reading that stuff.” I understand that, but I invite readers to stick a toe in any way. Try my books or other horror authors. Horror isn’t just one thing; horror is many things that can challenge the reader into feeling emotions that perhaps they haven’t explored in a long time.
My cousin and I often had horror, let’s call them discussions she loved the movies I run from. She wanted to watch movies where the human spirit is challenged by little men on tricycles. When I asked her why, she said that she would become engrossed into trying to figure out how she would survive such an ordeal. My cousin is a survivor she’s been through a lot, it added up and made sense.
Another avid fan of gore horror books and movies told me it wasn’t the horror that he loved most of all, but the psychology of it. I often hear this, horror takes us to places within ourselves that we would rather not explore. Horror can have the reader questioning themselves. What would I do? What could I handle? It’s actually not about the zombies, but about how the people handle the zombies.
As a writer I am still on my monster hunt, but now I create them. My current manuscript The Demon Dealer is a nod to the great Stephen King and my love for the show Stranger Things. My books are me still searching, traveling down those horror roads figuring out what makes me jump back and take notice.
For me the scariest thing of all is the unknown. It’s not that there is something under that bed. It’s the not knowing what that thing is. Because of that I fill my books with mystery. I want the reader to get the creeps over what “it” might be. Those dark corners of the unknown are where I find myself most often.
If you haven’t tried horror before maybe it’s time you go find your monster; you might learn something about yourself that was hidden on one of those dirt roads.